Jump to Navigation
Jump to Content

Clean Wisconsin, Inc. v. Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

ELR Citation: 51 ELR 20134
Nos. 2016AP1688, (Wis., 07/08/2021)

The Wisconsin Supreme Court held, 4-2, that the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) had the explicit authority to impose an animal unit maximum condition and an off-site groundwater monitoring condition on a Wisconsin Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (WPDES) permit it reissued to a concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO) in Kewaunee County. The CAFO had sought a WPDES permit that would allow it to expand its operation, which WDNR issued, but on which the Department was subsequently ordered by an administrative law judge to impose conditions requiring the CAFO to cap the number of animals and monitor groundwater for contamination. Environmental groups subsequently sued WDNR to force the Department to impose the conditions. A lower court concluded that WDNR had explicit authority to impose both conditions. The high court agreed, finding the Department had explicit authority to prescribe both conditions to assure compliance with effluent limitations, as well as the explicit authority to prescribe the off-site groundwater monitoring condition in order to assure compliance with groundwater protection standards. It therefore affirmed the lower court ruling.